Key To Winning Is Defending The Horned Frogs

TCU head coach Gary Patterson says one of his major concerns and a trait of his team is the Horned Frogs penchant for slow starts. TCU has had its share of 11 a.m. kickoffs, having teed the ball up early against Southeastern Louisiana and Kansas. The 11 a.m. kick at Oklahoma State presents a greater concern as TCU will stay in Oklahoma City on Friday night, and then bus Saturday to Stillwater.

In their games this season, the Horned Frogs scored 10 points in the first half of their opener with LSU and trailed 16-10 at intermission. Against heavy underdog Southeastern Louisiana, TCU led 17-14 at half.

Texas Tech led the Frogs 10-0 at half in the Thursday night game in Lubbock. SMU led TCU 10-7 at the half. The last two weeks TCU trailed OU 13-0 and had only 16 total yards at the break, and last week the Frogs and Kansas were tied at 10-10 at the half.

"We have to start faster," said Patterson talking about his offense that has been a little handcuffed since losing original starting quarterback Casey Pachall in the Southeastern Louisiana game to a broken left arm. Pachall is a passer with an NFL-caliber arm.

The Frogs are ninth in the Big 12 in total offense at 331.2 yards per game, eighth in scoring offense at 27.8 points per game, eighth in rushing offense with 141.3 yards per contest, and the passing offense is ninth at 189.9 yards a game.

Oklahoma State has struggled on offense in conference games with West Virginia and Kansas State. But even with their struggles the Cowboys are averaging almost 50 more yards and the same number of points as TCU is averaging in all games.

The OSU defense is right there in the neighborhood with the Horned Frogs defenders in numbers, leading one to believe if OSU just wakes up in plenty of time and is wide eyed for kickoff that an early lead would be possible. The key may be in keeping the Frogs offense in its place at the start.

To that aim, the OSU scouting report is more kind and complimentary to the Frogs offense.

"I don't see any of (TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin's) bad plays, just the good ones," said Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. "I don't see the slow starts, but I see the damage that he can do with his ability to run and keep defenses off balance."

"They have a talented quarterback; a very versatile quarterback," said Cowboys safety Daytawion Lowe. "He can run the ball and get it to his targets. We have to get on him fast, getting a lot of pressure on him. We have to make him make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hands.They have a good number of running backs; a good number of threats. We have a lot of people we have to worry about."

"[Kansas State's Daniel Sams] from last week helped us prepare for Boykin this week," said linebacker Shaun Lewis. "It's a similar type athlete with the way they can run and spread the field. It's going to be interesting to see how we stack up against Boykin this week."

You want the defense to have that attitude and you want them to be thinking about how they have to start fast and set a trend for the game by stopping TCU and discouraging the Horned Frogs, a preseason favorite along with the Cowboys at the start of the season.

TCU's defense will be a load for the Oklahoma State offense but the Cowboys will score points. TCU has forced 15 turnovers this season, three more than the Cowboys, who lead the league in turnover margin. The Horned Frogs have turned the ball over twice as many times as the Cowboys, 11-to-5.

"That's the key thing for our defense," added Lewis. "We want to go out, force turnovers and give our offense the ball. Whatever we can do – strip the ball, intercept the ball – to get the ball back in our offense's hands."

Quick start, stop the Frogs somewhat lethargic offense, use that to get a big lead in the first half, and force turnovers that will keep momentum with the home team. Those are all good ingredients to a happy Homecoming.

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